As an avid reader, last week I ceremoniously celebrated Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to rediscovering touchy topics of the times. As a fan of Jack London’s short story “To Build a Fire,” I re-read “The Call of the Wild,” a book that was banned and burned. Some may be surprising: “Where the Wild Things Are,” others are controversial classics: “The Great Gatsby,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Scarlett Letter.” Last year two books that were challenged for their content went on to have soaring success, both even being made into movies: “The Hunger Games,” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” There is a book that is currently being written, though, that I have taken an interest in, a book that is just beginning, that of current Miss West Virginia, Paige Madden.
Paige has been involved in musical theatre from an early age, playing the role of “Annie” at the Strand Theatre when she was 9. An alumnae of John Marshall High School, where she performed in such plays as “Fame” and one of my personal favorites, “Seussical the Musical,” she went on to work as a weekend reporter for WTRF and study Television Journalism and History at West Virginia University. While there she performed in Mountaineer Idol in 2012, choosing a song that portrayed a personal message: “I don’t think the complex and ever-growing issue of domestic violence can ever be completely and accurately represented in a 4-minute song,” she says. Describing her decision, “I chose to sing “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride for the country genre night of competition.”
“This night happened to fall in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. At that time in my life, I hadn’t even considered competing in a pageant, so I hadn’t yet developed my platform regarding domestic violence awareness. I chose to dedicate the song to my grandmother, Donna Madden, who was an influential advocate for domestic violence awareness in her lifetime as well as a volunteer for the YWCA in Wheeling…I think it’s pretty obvious that music is an astronomical influence on our society, and every opportunity to perform is an opportunity given to send a message.”
Paige placed 2nd in Mountaineer Idol 2013 and has even auditioned for American Idol and the X Factor. She then became Miss Southern West Virginia and took the title of Miss West Virginia soon after. Paige competed in the Miss America Pageant in September, where she was awarded a Non-Finalist Talent Award and a $1.000.00 scholarship for her performance of “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, describing it as “an obvious choice. It is hands down my favorite song to sing.” Regarding choosing to sing as a talent she says, “I have absolutely no other talents, other than I can occasionally get lucky at the bowling alley or a pool table.”
With a platform that isn’t just professional but personal, Paige is eloquently writing her story and representing her state. For a red head that is allergic to sunlight, she shines in everything she does, radiating her rays on important issues. She is continuing the lasting legacy her grandmother left, with her loyal leadership and passion about prevention. Ms. Madden is certainly worth the read, and with many more chapters left to charter, I can’t wait to turn the Paige.